Ohio#039;s Barrett takes care of his mother

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 27, 2003

ATHENS, Ohio - When Delvar Barrett was looking at colleges, he had one condition for agreeing to play basketball.

His mother had to come, too.

Vivian Barrett is legally blind and diabetic. She and her son live in a small apartment just off the Ohio University campus, where he balances school, basketball and taking care of her - as well as his own diabetes.

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He doesn't mind.

''All the stuff she did for me when I was growing up?'' Barrett said. ''That's why I always said I was going to take care of her no matter what.''

Mrs. Barrett needs help with some things but is independent enough to give herself insulin injections after Barrett fills the syringe. He takes his diabetes medication in pill form.

Ohio was willing to help Barrett, 24, of Detroit, find an apartment and to be flexible with practice if he needed to take his mother to the doctor or take care of things with her.

''It's noble on his behalf to take on this responsibility,'' Bobcats coach Tim O'Shea said. ''That shows great character. I thought it'd add something to our team.''

For road games, Barrett checked his mother into a nursing home. The first time ''killed me, because I told her I'd never put her in a home,'' he said.

It turned out OK. Mrs. Barrett enjoys going to the home and has told her son he can check her in if he needs a break for a couple of days.

''After the season I might take her up on that,'' Barrett said, laughing.

It was a frustrating first season at Ohio. Barrett, a forward, had 21 points and 11 rebounds against Akron, 10 points against Virginia, but a nagging ankle injury limited what he could do.

Ohio finished the season 14-16.

Barrett admits that he's struggled with keeping up with all of his responsibilities.

''I can't give 100 percent to anything,'' he said. ''I have Vivian, but I also have to make sure I have good enough grades, because without my scholarship, then what? And if I don't play basketball, then I don't have a scholarship, so nothing gets my full, undivided attention.''

A junior, he needs a 2.0 grade point average to keep his scholarship; at the end of winter quarter, he said he thought he was hovering at about a 2.1. He hasn't decided on a major.

After the Virginia game on Feb. 26, which OU won 78-72, the Barretts' apartment was crowded.

As he answered questions, Barrett kept up a running conversation with friends as well as occasionally answering a cell phone call from his junior college coach, who wanted to find out how the game turned out and to update Barrett on how his former school was doing.

Barrett's 6-foot-8, 275-pound frame, slouched a little in a chair, made an inviting target for his 4-year-old daughter, Kierra Foster. She would run into the room and hop onto his lap for a few minutes before jumping down and wandering off again.

Well-spoken and polite, he slipped into an outrageously over-the-top street accent at the end of the interview, sending his guests into fits of laughter.

O'Shea said that's normal.

''He's fun to be around,'' the coach said. ''He's a guy who comes to practice every day with a positive attitude. He doesn't dwell on what he doesn't have.''